Rwamagana— A long dry spell that loomed over huge parts of the Eastern Province could send more residents into acute food shortages, local leaders warned Wednesday.
The drought has dealt a big blow to the province’s new methods of farming based on growing of specialty crops. The implication is that the districts of Kirehe and Ngoma lost their maize crop, due to insufficient rains. Kayonza district has not faired any better.
The remarks were made at a Provincial security meeting attended by all mayors and other high level Provincial officials.
Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the area Governor, who chaired the meeting, advised the mayors to advise farmers to diversify crop production.
“I think when maize fails, we should be able to go for a different crop...it is a matter of liaising with our partner Ministry of Agriculture,” she said.
Jean Marie Makombe, officer in charge of Districts Development in Eastern Province says projected maize production was not realised.
The average percentage of maize production in the districts of Kayonza, Ngoma and Kirehe is at 40 percent he said.
Kirehe Mayor, Protais Murayira, said drought destroyed huge maize fields in most of Kirehe sectors.
“We campaigned vigorously to produce a lot of maize...thousands of hectares were used for maize cultivation, but there were practically no yields, due to drought. Our farmers are thus discouraged in a way,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was reported at the meeting that some vulnerable residents who were given free land are selling their parcels of land at give away prices, especially in Nyagatare, Kirehe, Gatsibo and Kayonza districts.
The Governor advised the mayors to identify specific cases of such land transfers and use the existing law to see how to reclaim the land sold under such circumstances.
The Mayor of Nyagatare district Fred Sabiti Atuhe and Francois Ntiyotwagira of Ngoma district, said that illicit alcohol dealers are becoming a great threat to communities.
“Entry points at Rwanda-Uganda borders at Tabagwe and Karama are the most notorious...it is being reported that dealers of such illegal brew have since been seen escorting Kanyanga with machetes and spears. This is posing a security challenge and some of these dealers are even confronting local leaders,” Fred Atuhe Sabiti said.